Kambanite Monument

Kambanite park was established in 1979, which was declared by the United Nations as the International Year of the Child. An international children’s arts festival took place in the park between 16-25 August 1979 aiming to bring together children from all around the world. The event became known as the “Flag of Peace” International Children’s Assembly and was organized under the patronage of UNESCO under the motto “Unity, creativity, beauty”. While the event was planned as a single event, due to its success, the United Nations, UNESCO, UNICEF and the participating countries in the Assembly expressed willingness to support similar future events.

Kambanite Monument from a drone’s view, 2016

The Assembly “Flag of Peace” turned into an event organised every three years and developed into a new form of diplomacy and cooperation for the sake of peace. Until 1989, four such assemblies and meetings of children from around the world were held in Sofia with a total of 3,900 children from 138 countries and 14,000 children from Bulgaria participating in them. The last event held in 1989 was also the most successful – children from 135 countries took part of the event.

Before and after our project for revitalization of the monument

The “Kambanite” monument was erected for 30 days and consists of four 37-meter vertical pylons, as well as two horizontal semi circles where 108 bells are located. At the top of the high body there is a sphere, symbolizing the planet Earth, with seven bells arranged spirally, which represent the continents. They were cast in the Bronze Foundry of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Sofia by Ivan Kostadinov and have a total weight of 12 tons, the largest weighing 3,650 kg. At the bottom of the four pillars there are another 18 bells, selected and tuned by Prof. Dobri Paliev, which are used along the main 7 bells to perform concert works.

The new lighting of the monument, part of our project

After 1989 the park was neglected and poorly maintained. Some of the bells disappeared and the assembly was discontinued. In 1996 the land was prepared for appropriation and bulldozers were sent to destroy Kambanite monument. The negative public reaction of the residents of the nearby Mladost District managed to prevent this from happening. After 1999 there have been several attempts to re-establish the children’s assembly, sadly with no success. Nowadays, various civic initiatives help with the maintenance and the enrichment of the park. Our project for the revitalization of the park makes part of these efforts. The project includes concrete cleaning, new lighting, new bins, new flags, new information signage and several initiatives to make the destination more well-known and popular among the citizens and guests of Sofia. Financing of the project comes from Sofia municipality.

A discussion about Kambanite, Czech Cultural Centre, Sofia, Oct 10 2017

Some interesting facts:

– this is the largest percussion instrument in Europe
– the oldest replica bell is dated 4th century BC
– the oldest original bell is dated 11th century AD
– the whole park was 0,38 sq. km at the beginning, now it’s only 0,15 sq. km
– one of the Latin American bells witnessed a real public revolt
– 133 is the total number of bells on the monument
– 1300 kg is the weight of the Bulgarian bell – in honour of the 1300 anniversary of the country’s foundation in 681
– the monument’s sculptors are Krum Damyanov and Mihail Benchev
– the first children’s railway line started in Plovdiv with the inauguration of Kambanite in 1979 bearing the name “Flag of Peace”
– Pope John Paul II gave a bell as a present for the monument in 2002 when he visited Bulgaria
– one of the biggest squares in Sofia is called “Flag of Peace”

Kambanite Monument from a drone’s view, 2016